Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Matthew 19:16 (NIV)

When the rich young man came to Jesus, the Lord would not allow him to perpetuate the myth that we can get to the God-life on our own terms. He won’t allow us to live in that myth either.

He won’t allow us to be double-minded in discipleship, where we agree to follow after Jesus but then get sidetracked—chasing hypothetical moral or intellectual dilemmas down trails that get us nowhere nearer righteous living, let alone into the kingdom of heaven.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer suggests that our many “what ifs” about discipleship keep us from the “necessity of obedience.”

We get so wound up trying to understand each step along the way —or, like the rich young man, trying to figure out that one thing we must do—that we become enslaved by doubt. Yet our freedom is found in simple, single-minded obedience to Jesus.

We must do what we know we’re supposed to do, and as we take each step of obedience, Jesus will reveal the next thing for us to do. Otherwise, we end up picking and choosing which commandments to obey, and our lingering debates lull us into thinking we are in a negotiation with Jesus when, in fact, we are simply disobeying him.

Bonhoeffer writes that the rich young man is actually attempting to “preserve his independence and decide for him self what is good and evil.” And that echoes back to the Garden and the hiss of the snake: “Did God really say that?” Surely there must be more to this than what God says?

Ask Jesus to question you in the places where you remain independent of him. Where are you still trying to decide for yourself what is good and what is evil?

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This devotional © Copyright 2013 Jon Walker. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Jon Walker

Jon Walker is managing editor of Rick Warren’s Daily Hope Devotionals and a contributing editor at pastors.com. Copyright © 2017 Jon Walker. Used by permission.